By Hannah Yakobi
With a journalistic career that spans over three decades, Jeanne Beker is a Canadian fashion icon. Host of CTV’s FashionTelevision, she is an author of several books, a strong supporter of Canadian designers and a winner of Fashion Group International’s Vantage Women of Originality Award.
Every season, Beker travels to various fashion capitals and reports about the latest collections that hit the runways, while interviewing designers ranging from Betsey Johnson to Karl Lagerfeld. She also travels extensively across Canada to promote her clothing line, EDIT. We caught up with her on a busy Monday afternoon.
You are always involved in multiple projects. What are you working on right now?
I’m working on my clothing line – that’s constant, constant, constant. I’m also working on all my stories for FashionTelevision and the Star, and developing a new website for myself. I do a lot of work for charities – including Gilda’s Club on Nov.7, for which I’m cleaning out my closet and getting all my celebrity friends to donate too. It’s quite a fabulous ongoing affair; this is our sixth year doing it. I also have a big fundraiser next week. I’m in a constant state of motion.
Because you are so busy, when do you find time to shop and where do you do it?
I don’t shop a lot – my clothes [often] come from my clothing line. I also have a clothing deal with Lida Baday and Judith&Charles. I go shopping for shoes. I’m not a big shopper, I enjoy it sometimes, but you are right – shopping takes a lot of time and I don’t often have that. It’s one of the reasons why I created EDIT: for busy women like myself, who just don’t have the time to wander through stores.
What is your favourite piece from the EDIT line?
All of them. If it’s not a favourite, I don’t put it in the collection. It’s a very, very limited, very, very focused collection. And each [piece] I think is an important key to the way you dress, to your entire wardrobe.
In the last two years, you’ve covered two major events – the Olympics in Vancouver last year and the Royal Wedding this year. You’ve covered a lot of events throughout your career – how did you feel about these two?
Fabulous! They were just great. True career highlights. I mean, especially working with that many people from CTV. It was just an absolute joy. I love that kind of collaboration in terms of my work, and I love that kind of production. And I guess I thrive on the stress, and I love doing anything live.
Last year, you also had a role in Love, Loss and What I Wore, a play that has a big focus on clothing. You have a theatre background and a love for fashion. What did you think of that particular project?
I absolutely adored it. It’s always a great experience when you can return to your roots. I’m a communicator, I love performing and I love theatre. And to be able to really talk to women in that way is another great passion of mine. So it was a great joy, I got to work with some of the best actresses in the country. That’s what I love about my job – it’s so multi-faceted, there is never one set thing that I do. There are so many different forms of expression, so many different creative things that I can get involved in.
You are one of the top fashion journalists in Canada and around the world. With all the recent technological changes, where do you see fashion journalism going in the near future?
The Internet has helped democratize fashion, it makes us realize that we all have opinions that matter. Fashion is a very subjective thing. Some people think that those who have a broad interest in fashion, such as really professional fashion editors who have been doing it for a long time, have a broader frame of reference. Certainly, they have more of an expert opinion. But I don’t often think that’s necessarily more valid than what the consumer thinks. So I think it’s going to make products better in the long run too, because designers can really hear from people how their product resonates, what it really means to women, how women are using their work and how these pieces are being translated into real lives.
Speaking of future – you have two daughters, do you think they will ever follow in your footsteps?
No, I don’t want to be the mother of followers, I want to be the mother of leaders. One of my daughters is 22 and the other is 24.
The 22-year-old is a singer, songwriter, musician. She has also worked in fashion and was apprenticing with Greta Constantine for a while. She has a love of style too, but I don’t think she wants to pursue a career in fashion. Maybe embroidery or soft sculpture. I could see her working as a stylist, but her true passion is music.
My other daughter is a puppeteer, playwright, director. She is highly creative and is also a visual artist. She works with a variety of media and a variety of techniques. Right now, she is actively working at a sculpture studio and an art gallery.
Both of them are very much involved in the arts.
From Nov.29 until Dec.16, the Art Gallery of Ontario is holding The Collector’s Series with Jeanne Beker exhibition. Could you tell FAJO’s readers a little bit more about that?
I’ve been collecting art since the early 80s and I have a very eclectic collection, which ranges from paintings and photographs to a few sculptural pieces. Some of the work is figurative, some of it is abstract; some of it is created by Canadian artists and some by the artists abroad. Including things that I bought during my travels!
FashionTelevision airs on Sundays at 5:30 p.m. ET on CTV.